Home windows 11 is lastly right here, bringing the largest replace we’ve seen to Microsoft’s PC software program in additional than half a decade. It’ll give your laptop a contemporary new look, some new methods to multitask and chat with associates and some efficiency enhancements for gaming. However is that every one value upgrading for?
We’ve spent roughly per week with the ultimate model of Windows 11 and have discovered quite a bit to love about Microsoft’s new working system, in addition to a couple of issues we’d wish to see improved. If you happen to’re questioning in case you ought to hit that obtain button — or purchase a brand new Home windows 11 laptop — listed here are the largest execs and cons to find out about.
If you happen to’re able to make the leap proper now, there are a couple of methods to get your fingers on Home windows 11 as soon as it begins rolling out on Oct. 5. Most Home windows 10 customers are eligible to improve to Home windows 11 without cost — you possibly can run a well being examine to ensure your laptop is appropriate and meets the system necessities here.
We particularly advocate that these with custom-built desktops run the well being examine, as Home windows 11 requires TPM 2.0 — a selected safety module that people who constructed their very own PC may be lacking. There are some workarounds for this, nonetheless. Aside from that, these with a Home windows laptop computer or desktop from the previous couple of years ought to be good to improve.
To see if Home windows 11 is offered for you, go to Settings > Replace & Safety > Home windows Replace and click on “Verify for Updates.” You may as well merely search “Verify for Updates” from the Taskbar. When you’re there, observe the prompts to obtain the brand new software program.
In case your present laptop isn’t appropriate with Home windows 11 — otherwise you’re simply due for an improve — there are tons of Windows 11-ready PCs available right now. These embrace the Dell XPS 13, our choose for the best Windows laptop, in addition to all of Microsoft’s personal computer systems that ship with Home windows 11 out of the field, similar to the brand new Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Pro 8 and Surface Go 3. We’ll have full opinions on the most recent Floor vary quickly, however within the meantime, listed here are some Home windows 11-compatible PCs we’ve examined and advocate.
- One of the best Home windows laptop computer: Dell XPS 13 (beginning at $969; dell.com)
- Our favourite Floor laptop computer: Floor Laptop computer 4 (beginning at $999; microsoft.com)
- One of the best Home windows gaming laptop computer: Asus ROG Strix G15 Benefit Version ($1,649; bestbuy.com)
- One of the best Home windows gaming desktop: MSI Aegis RS ($2,499; officedepot.com)
A much-needed new coat of paint
Seems to be aren’t every little thing, however they’re a giant a part of what makes Home windows 11 really feel like a considerable replace. Microsoft’s new working system offers Home windows a contemporary new design that’s extra colourful, cleaner and simpler to make use of, all whereas remaining acquainted sufficient for Home windows 10 vets to leap proper into with out having to relearn a lot.
Probably the most noticeable change is the much-talked-about new Taskbar, which now sits on the middle and sports activities a way more minimal and enticing look that brings Macs and Chromebooks to thoughts. However whereas the Taskbar’s been cleaned up visually, it capabilities largely the identical.
Tapping the Home windows key will deliver up the revamped Begin menu, which places giant app icons entrance and middle and can even make app suggestions based mostly on what you’ve downloaded just lately. We’re not completely certain why there are each Begin and Search icons on the Taskbar, as each perform fairly equally relating to discovering current apps and information. However that small redundancy apart, the core feel and appear of Home windows 11 is simply cleaner and extra pleasant to make use of.
However what actually makes Home windows 11 a delight to have a look at are the beautiful new themes. The software program comes with six preset themes out of the field, which provide you with a couple of decisions of daring colours, stunning background imagery and lightweight and darkish modes to assist personalize your PC.
We’re particularly keen on the Glow theme that drowns our desktop in a deep purple hue with darkish mode enabled, however the blossoming blues of the default Home windows 11 theme are additionally very good. If the default themes aren’t your factor, you possibly can nonetheless customise every little thing out of your desktop background to your accent colours — and even combine collectively mild and darkish modes for various apps.
There are some smaller visible upgrades that we additionally recognize, similar to the truth that the default folders for issues like Music, Movies and Photos come in numerous colours and aren’t only a sea of boring-looking manilla icons. Mix that with small touches like an Apple-esque management panel for rapidly adjusting issues like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and also you’ve received an aesthetic that doesn’t fairly reinvent Home windows however makes it a lot simpler on the eyes.
Multitasking is healthier — and borrows one of many Mac’s greatest options
We’ve lengthy been followers of the multitasking capabilities in Home windows 10, and Home windows 11 takes them a step additional by borrowing liberally from macOS.
Identical to on Apple’s computer systems, now you can create a number of digital desktops, every with their very own units of open apps. That is helpful if, say, you need to have a devoted desktop for work stuff in the course of the day earlier than switching over to a gaming profile that already has Steam and Discord able to go at evening. Creating and leaping between a number of desktops felt zippy in our testing, and we particularly like which you can give every digital desktop a distinct background and title to obviously distinguish them from each other.
Typical Windows multitasking tools — similar to snapping home windows to totally different corners of the display — really feel as intuitive as ever, although there are a couple of new tips you possibly can make the most of this time round. The software program introduces new Snap Layouts, which let you hover over a window and select between plenty of layouts that embrace splitting the display between two apps or making a four-way grid.
Creating Snap Layouts felt fairly easy in our testing, although we discovered that sure third-party apps similar to Spotify and Discord didn’t fairly snap completely into place and overlapped different home windows a bit on smaller screens. It looks like builders will be capable of optimize their apps for Snap Layouts, so hopefully we’ll see much less of those points over time.
It’s simpler to Focus
Focus help has been a part of Home windows for years now, however Home windows 11 does job placing it entrance and middle by letting you entry it proper from the Taskbar. This useful function enables you to select between three totally different notifications settings: Off (enable all notifications), Precedence solely (enable solely notifications out of your apps of alternative) or Alarms solely (mute every little thing however alarms).
We discovered ourselves utilizing this function quite a bit, particularly when it got here time to place our heads down and do some writing (who knew that muting Discord makes you extra productive?). It’s not one thing we took benefit of usually on Home windows 10 because it was comparatively buried in menus, however we’re pleased to see it so simply accessible this time round. It’s not fairly as strong because the customizable Focus modes that Apple simply rolled out in its newest macOS and iOS updates, however it actually appears improved for Home windows 11.
The little issues make a giant distinction
Whereas Home windows 11 has an all-new look and a few important new options, it’s a number of the smaller touches which have actually impressed us. For instance, you’ll now see a bit icon on the backside of the display when your microphone is getting used, which is a useful privateness contact that helps deliver Home windows as much as parity with Apple’s software program.
We additionally recognize that Home windows 11 now offers you a fast ETA on how lengthy a software program replace will take whenever you select the “Replace and Shut Down” or “Replace and Restart” choices in your laptop. As a result of let’s face it: Nobody likes sitting by Home windows updates.
Widgets may use work
Home windows 11 has a brand new Widgets app, which is basically an upgraded model of Home windows 10’s information feed and allows you to see issues just like the climate, sports activities scores, information tales and shares at a fast look. Nonetheless, it feels a bit cumbersome and rigid in its present state, and isn’t one thing we’ve discovered ourselves utilizing an entire lot.
Once you click on the Widgets icon in your Taskbar, you’ll see a tray come out from the left aspect of your display with widgets for issues like climate, pictures, leisure and sports activities. You may transfer these widgets round and modify their dimension and content material, however with solely 11 widgets to select from and restricted sizing choices, this function doesn’t really feel fairly as strong as what’s on the market on Apple and Android gadgets. It’s seemingly that extra widgets will roll out over time — we’d actually wish to see ones from third-party apps like Spotify — however the function appears fairly light-weight in its present state.
You’ll additionally get a feed of reports tales under your widgets which you can personalize a bit, however we want there have been a neater method to customise what sorts of tales you get that didn’t contain having to go to a separate web site. We’d additionally love the choice to put Widgets straight on our desktop background. With the ability to examine the climate or compensate for the information at a fast look can be quite a bit simpler to do if it didn’t require an additional click on.
Groups chat isn’t that nice
Home windows 11 integrates Microsoft Groups chat straight into the Taskbar, which is designed to allow you to textual content and video name associates simply as seamlessly as you’ll utilizing iMessage and FaceTime on a Mac. There are simply two issues: The combination isn’t fairly as neat as Apple’s model, and, nicely…it’s Microsoft Groups.
The brand new Chat from Microsoft Groups software exhibits a fast record of your mates (it could actually pull in your current Skype and Outlook contacts, and you may invite anybody else by sharing a hyperlink), any of whom you possibly can click on on to begin a textual content chat or video name. It feels a bit disjointed, as clicking on a contact will open a separate Groups window. However the greater difficulty is that, for probably the most half, you’ll should get family and friends on Groups in an effort to chat with them.
We examined this function by sending an invitation hyperlink to some associates, considered one of whom talked about having to undergo a multi-step means of logging in with their Microsoft account in an effort to discuss to us. One good friend wasn’t even in a position to be a part of utilizing their Microsoft account. We additionally needed to open the complete Groups app to ask new contacts — this function can be much more helpful for beginning fast chats and video calls if there have been a approach to try this proper from the Taskbar.
Because it stands now, Android customers are higher off utilizing the Your Cellphone app to make calls from their Home windows PC. And now that Windows users can join FaceTime calls with their iPhone and Mac associates (albeit in a restricted, web-based capability), Home windows 11’s Groups Chat function feels a bit area of interest and unintuitive in its present state.
Android app assist…ultimately
Whereas the function isn’t accessible at launch, Home windows 11 will ultimately allow you to obtain correct Android apps to your laptop. This can allow you to do issues similar to document and submit a video to TikTok proper out of your PC, in response to Microsoft, and will show particularly helpful for accessing mobile-friendly video games and apps on Home windows tablets such because the Floor Go 3. It’ll additionally deliver Home windows machines as much as parity with Chromebooks, which have had entry to Android apps through the Google Play Retailer for some time now.
Downloading Android apps will work a bit bit otherwise on Home windows 11 than it does on Chrome OS, as you’ll use the Microsoft Retailer to browse a number of Android apps which might be pulled from the Amazon Appstore. We’ll should get our fingers on this function to see how nicely Android apps truly work on Home windows 11 PCs, however Microsoft says it’ll begin rolling out “later this yr.”
Some neat updates for PC gaming
Home windows 11 has a couple of new gaming options which might be designed to make your PC video games each look and run higher. Identical to on the brand new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, Home windows 11 now helps Auto HDR, which can routinely allow Excessive Dynamic Vary in appropriate video games to make them pop with extra brightness and shade.
Microsoft can also be promising that your video games will load quicker with DirectStorage, which is a expertise designed to permit your system’s graphics card and processor to work extra effectively so that you’re spending much less time gazing loading screens. Laptops and desktops that assist this function can be labeled as “DirectStorage Optimized,” so maintain a watch out for that when shopping for your subsequent gaming machine. We’re wanting ahead to testing these options on our favourite gaming PCs and gaming laptops, however they each sound promising on paper.
We’ve actually loved our time with Windows 11 up to now, however we wouldn’t name it a fully important improve simply but — a minimum of not for everyone. The visible refresh is very nice, and primary duties like silencing notifications and rapidly adjusting settings are all simpler, because of some sensible interface tweaks. However each time we return to our trusty previous Home windows 10 laptop, we don’t actually really feel like we’re lacking out on a lot.
Proper now you need to improve for considered one of two causes: You’re a heavy multitasker, otherwise you merely need a better-looking Home windows. Those that juggle a lot of initiatives and apps without delay will seemingly recognize the power to create a number of digital desktops, in addition to the helpful tweaks Microsoft has made to snapping home windows collectively. Once you mix that with simpler entry to issues like Focus help, Home windows 11 can actually shine for people trying to get critical work executed.
Home windows 11 is finally extra of a refresh than a full reinvention, and in some ways in which’s factor. Most of our muscle reminiscence from years of utilizing Home windows nonetheless holds up right here — every little thing is simply packaged extra neatly. We might additionally advocate making this improve for any youthful or much less tech-savvy customers in your life, as there’s merely much less litter right here for them to take care of. And in case you’ve received an older system that may’t run Home windows 11, chances are you’ll need to contemplate buying a compatible PC within the close to future, as Microsoft will finish assist for Home windows 10 a few years from now.
It’s value noting that like every new software program replace, Home windows 11 will seemingly have its share of launch issues and bugs and can hopefully get higher over time with new options, together with Android app assist. So improve proper now if you would like extra strong multitasking instruments and a few very fairly new backgrounds — in any other case, be happy to attend for a fair higher Home windows 11.